good morning granola

April 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

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I have a wonderful brother-in-law. He spoils me constantly with gourmet food goodies, most of them homemade. It began just a few years back when he made me vanilla and stuck it in my Christmas stocking. I was not only happily surprised, but impressed too! Last year I was gifted homemade gingerbread syrup, perfect for pancakes and oatmeal in the morning. And most recently, he surprised me, for no reason at all, with honeycomb, just oozing with honey. He cutely pointed out that honeycomb aids digestion. I smiled and hugged him and was so happy for the awkward but lovely gift. The next weekend it was on my morning toast, just as tasty as the creamed honey it had replaced.

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I didn’t use the honeycomb in this granola recipe, but it got me thinking about good breakfast food. This granola is so easy and so tasty, and hearty too! I promise it will keep you full until lunch.

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Inspired be Thrive
Makes 3 cups

1 cup old fashion oats*
1 cup steel cut oats
1/4 cup shredded coconut, sweetened
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons flax seeds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients except the cranberries and raisins. Mix until everything is coated. Lightly spray a baking sheet and evenly spread the granola in a single layer.

Bake for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes, until just slightly golden brown.

Remove from the oven and stir the granola around, so it doesn’t stick to the baking sheet. Allow to cool completely. Once cooled, stir in the cranberries and raisins. Store in an air-tight container and keep refrigerated. Enjoy with milk or yogurt.

*Note: You can use 2 cups of old fashion oatmeal instead of 1 cup of old fashion and 1 cup of steel cut, if that’s all you have.

pink applesauce

November 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

Applesauce

A few weekends ago, we were out with another couple enjoying a drink and watching the Red Sox work their way into the World Series. We got on the subject of apple picking and how they had missed their chance to go. I offered them some of my apples, since there are still dozens in my fridge, but they politely declined. The girlfriend seemed quite upset that she wouldn’t be making apple crisp, while the boys at the table proceeded to tell her she could make it just as easily with apples form the grocery store. In typical fashion, the girls’ response was anonymous, “That‘s not the point!”

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Our apple picking apples have just about turned the corner. They no longer have that crisp outer skin and they’re a bit mushy too. I proceeded to tell our friends about how I planned to make applesauce with all the leftover apples. I won’t lie they kind of stared at me, if just for a second too long.
“What are you going to do with applesauce?”
“Eat it.”
Longer pause.
“Eat it with what?”
“With itself.”

Every since we were young I remember eating applesauce. I usually warmed it in the microwave for 30 seconds, just to get the chill off and would cuddle up on the couch with a nice big bowl. It was the perfect little afternoon snack. My mom would even put it out on the table at dinnertime as a side, which I just recently learned was “To fill you kids up.” (We might have been picky eaters.) Apparently though, this is an unusual thing to do. When I mentioned this to our friends, their response was “You eat applesauce with pork chops.” (Which I guess is a very typical American meal that all mothers’ make for their children, that until they mentioned it, I had never heard of.)

I know I would have hated pork chops with applesauce, so I couldn’t be happier that my mom passed down her tradition of making applesauce and eating it all by itself instead. She taught me how to boil the apples, when to pluck them from the water just at the right moment and to always keep the skins on, to get a beautiful pink color.

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There was no real science to her recipe other than cut, boil and mash apples. Below is a recipe that works best for me today based of this same idea.

Makes 4-6 cups
(depending on the size of the apples)

15 apples (I prefer to use McIntosh)

Bring a large pot of water to a vigorous boil. Set an applesauce mill over a large bowl. (This can be done with a small sieve; however, it is much easier with an applesauce mill).

Cut each apple into quarters, removing the core and seeds, leaving the skin on. (For larger apples, cut into eight slices.) In batches, place apple slices into the boiling water, no more than can fill the surface of the pot. Boil the apples until the skins start to pull away from the core, the apples will start to crack a bit too, about 10-15 minutes. (This time does depend on the type of apples you use. You can tell the apples are ready more by look than time.)

Remove the apples from the pot, using a slotted spoon, making sure to shake off any excess water.

Place the cooked apples into the top of the applesauce mill. Place more apples into the boiling pot. While this round is boiling, press the wooden paddle against the edges of the mill. The apples should easily fall apart and you should see juices oozing down the sides of the mill into the bowl. (If using a sieve use the back of a wooden spoon to press the apples, and clean out the sieve of leftover skins a couple times between batches.) Continue this process of boiling and mashing until all the apples are used up.

You can enjoy the applesauce immediately, still warm or keep in the fridge for snacks later in the week.

apple & creamy chocolate dip

September 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

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The last month was a whirl wind. We have been away every weekend in August. My little brother bought a house. We spent the weekend half helping him move and half stuck in traffic trying to get to his new home to help him move. We continued our wedding planning with more visits to Vermont which entailed appointments, tastings and a bit of landscaping too. Plus add in there a quick trip down to Bristol, Rhode Island for a little sisterly bonding and one up to York, Maine for another friend’s wedding and you’ve summed up our month of August.

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I love August for this reason: it’s the last real month of Summer where the hustle and bustle almost increases. Everyone is trying to enjoy that last bit of Summer sunshine and each day is packed with more things to do than the last. It can however be a wee bit exhausting. And when the first of the month hit yesterday, I was so happy to be home. The alarm was set for 9 a.m. and we were still snuggled up in bed with coffee at 10 a.m. I have a love/hate relationship when the season’s change. I adore Fall but am always sad to leave the heat and sunshine behind.

I don’t know if I am sorry or not to say that I made this recipe half a dozen times this past month as both lunch and dinner. It is a delicious treat and one that doesn’t take any thinking at all. This recipe was taught to me by my mother, probably ten or so years back she put this snack out for the Superbowl. There amongst the chicken wings and nachos were freshly cut apples with chocolately yogurt on the side. It was not only our dessert for the night but it was the only thing on our coffee table that didn’t scream grease. I think I tried it then and liked it but still stuffed myself silly with chips and cheese. But I am so thankful for this simple treat she brought to the table, it has been made at mine so many times since.

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This recipe can be a wonderful snack for multiple people or a fast lunch for one.

Serves 1 as a meal, 2 to 3 as a snack
Inspired by my mother

1 apple, sliced thinly (Use green if you like less sweet things and use pink ladies if you want more sweetness)
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons of hot fudge

In a small bowl, warm hot fudge just until melted but not too warm. Let cool for a minute and stir in the greek yogurt.

Place the apple slices on a small plate and serve immediately. Enjoy by dipping each apple into the chocolate yogurt.

blueberry smoothie

April 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

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It may seem a bit early in the year to be pulling out the blender to have a frozen drink. Maybe after spending five days in the Florida sunshine, where you crave a cold drink, I just didn’t want to leave that feeling behind. We had a lovely time getting away from the Boston snow, which is almost all gone, and spending a few days with the rents in The Villages (a 55+ community). It might not sound like the most glamorous vacation, but we enjoyed it just the same. We spent our mornings waking early and running in the cool air, my dad leading the way on his bike. Our afternoons were filled with activities and more activities, zumba class, pickle ball, shuffleboard, bocce, polo matches, oh and two for 1 drinks every afternoon starting at 4. Not a shabby way to live. It’s always a pleasant feeling to not have to do anything or not have to be anywhere at a certain time. You just do what feels right in the moment. And that’s what we did.

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Another great feature of this vacation was that I’m spoiled whenever I’m with my parents. They always do those little things to make their guests feel so welcome. And just like when I was a kid, they make me fabulous breakfasts each morning; waffles piled high with syrup and strawberries, sweet banana bread and Florida orange juice from Florida.

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So I’m not sure if it was my need to hold on to some of that relaxing, vacation feeling or just sheer laziness that had me turn to this blueberry smoothie, either way I was happy to be sipping it in almost 50 degree weather.

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Serves 1
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
juice of 1 orange (about 1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)*

Juice the orange and combine in a blender with the blueberries and yogurt. Pulse until everything is smooth. Add the chia seeds and pulse until just combined. Pour into a tall glass and serve with a straw.

*I first heard about chia seeds in the book, Born to Run. If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s about crazy runners, runners who can go 50 miles one day and then turn around and do another 100 miles the next, insanity. Chia seeds were a big piece of the Tarahumara Indians’ diet, a tribe in Mexico, a tribe of runners. Theses little black seeds are now quite the rage in the U.S., especially with long-distance runners.

Learning a little bit more about the seed, it’s loaded with Omega-3s and antioxidants; you know that stuff that you get from fish, that I’m sure I don’t get enough of. They have been called “one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the market.”

I guess you can add them to almost anything: drinks, breads, baked goods. They didn’t change the flavor of the smoothie so I’m assuming across the board they are just a nutrious add, more research on that to come.

chocolate nut granola bars

February 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

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On Sunday, still on our Vermont Getaway, we escaped from our no-internet-house and snuck into a Starbucks for a couple of hours. I wanted to write this post about the granola bars I had just made and it was a good excuse to get out of the house for a bit. Oh, and the warm vanilla latte didn’t hurt either.

I try to be good each weekend in preparing food for the coming week. Lately, I have been on a granola bar kick. It’s a nice pick me up in the afternoon and its a step up from a cookie that I might grab otherwise. I was so happy when I made this recipe . The bars were the perfect combination between crunch and moistness and they still have that kick of sweetness and chocolate that I enjoy in the afternoon.

You’ll notice that I made a half portion of this recipe and baked it in a bread loaf pan. This yielded me 7 bars. I have doubled the portions below to fit in a regular 9×9 pan.

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Makes about 14 bars
1 1/2 cups old fashion oats
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly chopped
1/3 cup peanut butter
6 tablespoons margarine, melted
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×9 pan.

Combine all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl — oats, sugar, flour, coconut, cinnamon, salt, chocolate chips and walnuts.

Then add all the wet ingredients — peanut butter, margarine, honey, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press down with a rubber spatula until it’s even and flat in the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes until lightly browned on the top. Allow the bars to cool before cutting and eating.

I like to keep my granola bars in the fridge. I find they last longer and keep a better crunch without drying out. Just pull one out a little bit before you’re ready to eat it and allow it to get back to room temperature.

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